Terri's Run for a Cure
Sep 25, 2013
If you've been in touch with me in recent years, you’re almost certainly aware that I’ve become somewhat of a marathon junkie. I’m not a natural at running (or any other sport), and will never be particularly fast. But I’ve discovered a passion for distance running that has dumbfounded both me, and friends and family who knew me as someone who used to drive two blocks to get a carton of milk. I’ve loved exploring trails with my running friends, pushing our limits through swampy D.C. summers and frigid winters. I’ve never had any serious running injuries, other than a stress fracture years ago when I trained for my first marathon. Perhaps for that reason, I had come to secretly think of myself as invincible, and envisioned myself running marathons well into my 70s. But I’m not invincible. Nobody is.
In May 2013, I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), one of the most common forms of adult leukemia. My internist suspected it when I had elevated white blood cell (WBC) counts several months apart, but wasn’t sick. When the diagnosis was confirmed, I was shocked and had trouble getting my head around it. I couldn’t reconcile a blood cancer diagnosis with the extremely active lifestyle that has become routine for me. But fortunately, my CLL is at an early stage, and thus far seems to be moving glacially. The standard of care for now is “watch and wait” (or “watch and worry,” as many CLL patients term it!). My oncologist has assured me that I need not make any lifestyle changes, and she stuck to that, even after I told her my lifestyle consists of running 8 marathons or ultras a year. But I know that someday, CLL could become an issue for me, and when that day comes, I want to have as many treatment options as possible.
That’s why I’ve decided to run the D.C. Rock and Roll marathon in March 2014 through Team in Training, as a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. Over the past 24 years, Team in Training has raised $1.3 billion to support blood cancer research and patient services, helping to advance new treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. Still, there’s no cure for CLL or other blood cancers. I know that many of you regularly donate to worthy charitable causes, and you can’t respond to every fundraising request. But even a contribution of $10 will help me reach my fundraising goal.
Finally, if this is the first time you’re hearing about my CLL, sorry to zap that on you. I wouldn’t have gone “public” in this way, if I didn’t feel it was so right for me, as a marathon runner and CLL patient, to commit to a Team in Training run. Rest assured, I fully expect to be around for a long time, and to someday bore my grandchildren with long-winded stories about all the crazy races I did in my “youth.” Go Team!